The sports media has been too busy hyperventilating over Barry Bonds’ steroid and growth hormone regimen, as detailed in the new book Game of Shadows, to realize that Barry has a much bigger problem on his hands.
And while the drug use Bonds was involved with, according to this new book, will cause him to lose his reputation and will result in a permanent black cloud hovering over his statistics and records, some of Bonds’ other actions may result in him losing much more.
The three scariest letters in the American language are “I.R.S.,” as in the Internal Revenue Service. Ask Al Capone … oh wait, he’s dead. But if he were alive he would support my statement. J. Edgar Hoover and his G-Men didn’t get Al. “The Untouchables” weren’t responsible for putting Al and his opera records behind bars. The big, bad taxman was responsible for putting Capone on ice.
Since Big Al has been tats up for a while, you can ask Duke Snider, Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Pete Rose – for starters – about what it’s like when you run up against the taxman. Barry can forget about Bud Selig and the Lords of Baseball, and the baseball writers and the fans. He needs to worry about the taxman. He can laugh at the court of public opinion, but he should fear the tax court.
By the way, all of the people in the Balco Labs case were charged with tax evasion.
Bonds’ mistress Kimberly Bell has testified that Bonds gave her $80,000 in cash that he earned from baseball memorabilia-related income, income that Bonds apparently didn’t report to the I.R.S. Oops. This is a bad formula: Baseball player + income derived from selling autographed items + allegations of unreported income + curious I.R.S. agents = JAIL.
Forget about any penalties for Bonds’ drug use. Besides the unlikely event that he’d be charged with perjury for lying in front of a Grand Jury, Bonds hasn’t really done anything illegal. Bonds’ actions – with regards to the drug use portrayed in this book – were unethical and that’s about it.
And Bud Selig and his cronies in Major League Baseball are not only complicit in the behavior of all of the players who abused steroids, but they are too spineless to be hypocritical enough to even try to mete out punishment to Bonds. You’re a fool if you think that the teams and the league hierarchy didn’t know about the steroid problem.
So that leaves the Feds. And when the Feds get on your trail, they usually don’t leave it. What’s the old saying about the Canadian Mounties always getting their man? The I.R.S. laughs at these Mounties.
So let the ESPN’ers – and their brethren who pollute the local airwaves – flail about and unsuccessfully try to discuss the steroid issue in an intelligent manner. Let the Sisyphusian “should Bonds still be in the Hall of Fame?” arguments roll on. Let Bonds’ lawyer and his other sycophants challenge the drug use arguments and impugn the reputations of everyone who has dared to utter a bad word about Barry.
And all the while the I.R.S. will be doing their job. And Bonds will be sweating.